April 1, 2007

Industry tries new ways to fight global warming

Sometime this summer, a huge coal-fired power plant near the shore of Lake Michigan will try a new process to capture carbon dioxide (CO2), a powerful greenhouse gas that gushes from its smokestack. The experiment at the We Energies plant in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., is among a batch of technologies aimed at slowing the rising tide of CO2 in the atmosphere, which scientists have concluded is a leading cause of global warming. Half the electricity generated in the United States comes from burning coal, Americas most plentiful and cheapest energy source. Unfortunately, burning coal is also a major producer of carbon dioxide, releasing an estimated 1.5 billion tons of the heat-trapping gas every year. Experts think that much of the buildup can be avoided if CO2 is captured at power plants and stored underground or under the ocean for hundreds, even thousands, of years. This process, known as Carbon Capture and Sequestration, is one of the hottest fronts in the battle against global warming.

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